CHARLESTON - Three St. Albans women are claiming that a maintenance man performing work on their apartment building sexually harassed them.

Judy Simms, Lois Kent and Julie Lawson filed a lawsuit June 5 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Lennox International, Inc., Service Experts, Teays Valley Heating and Cooling and Justin Ferrari, individually and as an employee of Teays Valley Heating and Cooling.

The women say Ferrari entered each of their units at Arborland Apartments to perform maintenance work on the heating and cooling systems and made unwelcome sexual advances.

Lawson says he entered her apartment on March 14 and "made unwelcome comments, overtures, advances and queries of a sexual nature" before approaching her in her bedroom and trying to kiss her.

After being denied, the lawsuit says he proceeded to Kent's apartment and again made inappropriate comments. However, this time he "did forcibly seize Lois by the buttocks and crotch and refused to let her pass by him in the hallway."

After being denied a second time, the lawsuit says he headed to Simms' apartment, where he got even more physical. She says he pinned her to the wall, kissed her and fondled her breasts.

After she escaped, Simms says Ferrari "did come up behind Ms. Simms, forcibly put her in a bear hug, forcibly did clutch her breasts and crotch and did forcibly rub his crotch into Ms. Simms' buttocks.

"Mr. Ferrari's penis was, in fact, erect."

After that, Simms says Ferrari threatened to unzip his pants and "display his penis."

The plaintiffs are suing Lennox International because they say it owns Service Experts, of which Teays Valley Heating and Cooling is a subsidiary. They charge the defendants with assault, battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

They are seeking compensatory, liquidated and punitive damages.

Michael D. Payne of Payne and Muldoon in Charleston is the plaintiffs' attorney.

Judge Louis Bloom has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1074

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